Powerful M7.9 earthquake hits Solomon Islands; tsunami warning but no waves

A powerful magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck deep under Papua New Guinea on January 22, 2017, causing damage and blackouts.

No tsunami waves have been reported hours after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert for nearby islands.

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A strong M7.9 earthquake hit the Solomon Islands on Sunday, January 22, 2017. A tsunami warning. via USGS

The mid-afternoon quake struck at a depth of 167 kilometers (103 miles) beneath the eastern province of Bougainville, where Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands meet in a continuous South Pacific archipelago.

No casualties were reported. But there was damage in parts of central Bougainville and the major town of Arawa.

The provincial capital of Buka was blacked out and residents of the southern town of Buin were moved to higher ground as a precaution against a potential tsunami. All tsunami warnings were later lifted. The greatest tsunami threat had been to Bougainville and that threat had passed without any report of a tsunami.

The absence of tsunami is most probably due to the great depth of the earthquake. Solomons government official George Herming said he was not aware of any major tremors being felt in his country or any tsunami.

National and provincial disaster authorities are monitoring the tsunami situation.

The epicenter of the strong earthquake lies in the Pacific’s geologically active “Ring of Fire.”

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